Here’s why you want to eat dinner early

You’ve probably heard health experts say “don’t eat after 7” or “eat 3-4 hours before bed”. I’ve heard them too. But I didn’t implement that advice for a long time. I mean, I was eating healthy. I worked out. I slept pretty well. So, was eating dinner an hour or so earlier really going to do anything?  

The answer, of course, was “yes”. Yes, it made a difference. And a big one at that. I went from dinners around 8:00 to 8:30pm to eating at 7:00pm and saw changes in just a week. Yea. A week. That’s how big of an impact this simple act can have. Here’s why:

The same part of your nervous system that digests your food also repairs and detoxifies your body when you sleep. When you eat meal, that system is queued to attend to your digestion. It takes about six to eight hours to fully digest your food. So, if you eat, say, at 8:30pm and go to bed around 10:00pm, your body spends the majority of your sleep time digesting your food – instead of repairing and detoxing.

Your body is supposed to be rebuilding when you sleep. Not digesting. But your body, like everyone else’s body, is built to address short-term needs – like digestion – over long-term ones – like rest. So, if you need to digest food, your body is going to digest food. If you eat dinner late regularly (e.g. you eat late most weekdays verses, say, a late Saturday dinner with friends), your body eventually shifts from its natural and preferred rhythm to a vicious cycle of waking up feeling heavy and full because you A. didn’t get enough rest and B. essentially just digested your food. So, you inevitably eat a late breakfast, which results in a late lunch and then a late dinner. Alternatively, you skip breakfast, graze at lunch because your body thinks it has to run on fumes and then you eat a huge, late dinner when you can’t stand hunger pangs any longer.

Both aren’t ideal. And if any of them sound familiar, you could benefit from eating dinner an hour or two earlier. It really can have a huge impact on your life. In fact, I’ll own it and say I wish I would have done this sooner. When when I think about it, I can’t believe what this simple shift did to my body and my energy. So, if you’re not eating an early dinner already, try and bump up dinner time by an hour or two this week and see what happens.

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